The ground is nothing if not solid and reliable—or so we think! Slippery surfaces can catch even the most level-headed of us by surprise. Even more so, figuring out what to do if you experience such a misfortune can be confusing and remain vastly unknown.
According to data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there were 17,672 hospitalizations due to falls in NYC in 2019. Of these hospitalizations, 9,383 were due to falls among adults aged 65 and older. Falls are a leading cause of injury and hospitalization in NYC and can result in serious injuries such as fractures, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
If you’ve suffered a slip and fall on a slippery surface, here’s your go-to guide to the legal rights at your disposal. Read on for knowledge and peace of mind!
Understanding NYC Sidewalk Liability
Understanding sidewalk liability is key when it comes to slip-and-fall accidents on sidewalks. Generally speaking, the party who owns or maintains the sidewalk is responsible for any damage to a person who is injured due to the condition of the sidewalk. This includes both public and private sidewalks.
However, determining liability can be tricky regarding public sidewalks, as many cities have different regulations regarding public walkways and their upkeep. Even if your local city has certain regulations in place that stipulate that the government is responsible for any damages resulting from an uneven sidewalk, proving fault may take time as governments can typically deny responsibility; hiring an attorney can certainly help with this process.
In the case of private sidewalks, it’s often much easier to understand where responsibility lies, as it will likely rest with the homeowner or business owner who maintains the property. Yet even then, depending on state and local laws, other mitigating factors, such as weather conditions or third-party negligence, might come into play that could potentially absolve the offender of responsibility.
Therefore, when trying to determine who is liable after slipping and falling on a slippery sidewalk, doing research regarding city regulations and laws surrounding this type of accident is key, as they can vary widely from location to location.
Regardless of who is ultimately liable for any damages incurred by a slip-and-fall accident on a slippery sidewalk, legal action can almost always be taken against the responsible party. And thus, recognition of what rights are available when impacted by such an event—something we will now explore—is equally important.
What Is Your Local Government’s Responsibility For Slip-and-Falls?
The government typically has limited responsibility for a slip-and-fall incident on a sidewalk. To determine the government’s responsibility, it is important to distinguish between public and private sidewalks.
Private sidewalks are typically paved, built, and maintained at the expense of the property owner or tenant. Public sidewalks, conversely, are typically owned and maintained by a local municipality, county, or state.
When it comes to public sidewalks, the government may bear some responsibility for injuries sustained from slipping on icy surfaces due to their responsibility for regular maintenance and inspection. Given this, governments in certain jurisdictions can be liable for personal injuries incurred when ice or snow piles up on publicly owned sidewalks over an extended period of time without being cleared. Therefore, depending on the jurisdiction, victims may have grounds to pursue damages against the government entity responsible for maintaining the sidewalk.
However, these claims of negligence against governments must still meet certain legal criteria before they can be successful—such as proving that said entity knew or should have known about an icy sidewalk and failed to clean it within a reasonable amount of time. Lastly, claims against local municipalities may be limited by state laws that offer governments immunity from certain types of lawsuits.
In this case, it is essential to research local laws to ensure all steps are taken when seeking damages from governmental entities responsible for maintaining public sidewalks. If successful in pursuing recourse against a governmental entity for failing to take necessary precautions when inspecting and clearing public space from ice and snow, victims can receive compensation covering medical costs associated with their injury, lost wages, and other applicable damages associated with their loss.
With that being said, determining the extent of the government’s responsibility for sidewalk-related injuries can be difficult since relevant laws and statutes vary across jurisdictions. Thus, understanding how best to proceed with any claim necessitates consulting a knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with local statutes concerning premises liability and slip-and-fall incidents.
Litigating a Claim Against Property Owners in New York City
The previous section discussed the government’s responsibility in cases of slip-and-fall incidents. Depending on the circumstances, slip-and-fall victims may also have the right to bring a claim against private property owners. If a victim can prove that they experienced an injury due to the negligence of a private landowner, they may be able to recover damages through a lawsuit.
When determining whether or not this type of lawsuit is appropriate, one should first determine if the private landowner was negligent. Further, it is essential for victims to prove that this negligence contributed to the slip and fall incident.
This can be challenging as plaintiffs must provide evidence that the landowner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and did nothing or not enough to warn people about the hazard or even fix it. However, it is important to remember that even when property owners reasonably attempt to fix a danger on their property but fail, they may still be liable and held responsible in court.
No matter what one may believe, it is clear that slip-and-fall incidents on slippery sidewalks can be extremely serious and costly affairs. As such, understanding who is responsible for these incidents is essential for those affected by them.
Who Can You File a Slip-And-Fall Lawsuit Against?
The legal burden in a slip-and-fall case rests on whether it can be demonstrated that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care in keeping their premises safe. Litigation of such claims against property owners may become complicated as primary responsibility for safety conditions falls upon the occupant or operator, although other entities may also bear some responsibility.
For instance, if a sidewalk was recently resurfaced with an unsuitably slippery material, the landowner and potentially even contractors hired to complete the work may need to partake in litigation proceedings. Furthermore, if the condition of the premises was caused by another party’s negligence, such as when a delivery truck spilled lubricants onto the walkway or surrounding area, then this party must also be held liable for any damages suffered due to their actions.
It should also be noted that, given local or state laws, whether landowner liability exists or not may depend on variable factors. For example, in some jurisdictions like California or New York, municipalities might be held legally responsible for damages incurred from hazardous conditions present on public sidewalks. Furthermore, discretionary laws can also play a part in evaluating the plaintiff’s claim in such cases.
Given all the legal considerations surrounding who can be sued in such cases, it is best to always seek professional advice before initiating any litigation procedure. Having reviewed who can potentially bear responsibility for any injurious conditions present on-premises, it becomes necessary to investigate further what surface conditions led to the incident and how they could support one’s claim.
Investigating the Surface Conditions and Locating Evidence
After you decide who to file your slip and fall claim lawsuit against, it is important to begin investigating the conditions of the surface on which you slipped and fell. This investigation should happen as soon as possible after the accident so that the conditions of the surface can be examined in real-time. In order to prove negligence in NYC, you must demonstrate that the owner or possessor of the property created an unreasonable risk of harm or failed to repair or warn of a known hazard.
In order to do this, the evidence must be collected to support your case. If a sidewalk’s surface defect was at fault for your slip and fall, you should inspect both sides of the sidewalk, including any cracks or divots that present themselves. When examining damaged surfaces, it is especially important to document what is visible to provide evidence for your case.
It may also be beneficial for you to take photographs of any other conditions that could have contributed to your accident and are visible, such as wet leaves, ice buildup from snowfall, debris from construction, potholes, etc. It is also helpful to note any hazardous warnings present, and if no warnings were given, then point out reasons why it may not have been foreseeable for you to experience a slip and fall.
Additionally, if witnesses were present when you fell, it would be beneficial to collect their contact information as they can provide valuable support for your case. Furthermore, accessing public records such as maintenance logs, permits, and licenses related to sidewalk repair may aid in proving negligence or lack thereof.
Examining the conditions before and after your accident will provide evidence supporting negligence in creating an unreasonable risk of harm when preparing for a potential lawsuit. As such, these are important steps one should take when looking into filing a slip-and-fall lawsuit against an individual or company.
All in all, one can make an effective slip-and-fall claim by collecting physical and testimonial evidence to build a strong claim against any party responsible for creating an unreasonable risk of harm due to hazardous circumstances.
Making a Slip-and-Fall Legal Claim in New York
After investigating the surface conditions of the surface you fell on and gathering all the necessary evidence, the next step would be to make a slip-and-fall claim.
Generally speaking, to succeed in your NY slip-and-fall case, you must prove that the owner of the property or someone legally responsible for it caused an unsafe condition or was aware of it but didn’t do anything about it. Furthermore, the injured person must have suffered actual damages from the fall, such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, inconvenience, etc.
These claims can often be complicated and require more than just common sense to prove. For example, if a business owner is accused of negligence for not maintaining its premises, such as having slippery floors due to a lack of cleaning or gritting (in cases of icy surfaces), evidence would need to be provided that proves that either a) due care wasn’t taken to ensure that hazardous areas were taken care of or b) proper warning signs weren’t in place so that people could avoid those areas. Also, note that different states may have different laws for proving extreme carelessness or recklessness when accusing a property owner or occupier.
Having said all this, how easy it is to win a case against a property owner depends on how prepared you are to present your evidence and argument before the court. It’s, therefore, important that negligence claims are well-researched before launching a claim against any party. There may be complex legal facts that need to be thoroughly evaluated beforehand.
Calculating Damages for a Slip and Fall Injury in New York
Calculating damages for an injury due to a slip or fall can be complicated and depends on the laws of the state in which the injury occurred. In negligence claims, plaintiffs must prove that the property owner had a duty of care and breached that duty, leading to the plaintiff’s injuries. A successful personal injury claim can result in various types of damages, including economic losses such as medical bills and non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
One way to calculate damages is to examine insurance claims in similar cases. If a case has been decided by a court or settled out of court, examining the amount of reimbursement requested and received can indicate what kind of compensation might be awarded in similar cases.
Another method used to estimate damages is the “one-third rule.” The one-third rule holds that future medical expenses should be estimated at one-third of the total amount needed for treatment, recovery, and lost wages due to injury. This strategy assumes no further treatment will be required once the injured party has been discharged from their doctor’s care.
While the evidence may lean towards awarding more compensation to an injured party depending on the severity of their injuries and other factors such as lost wages and emotional distress caused by their accident, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for calculating injury damages.
Ultimately, it is up to a jury or judge to determine whether or not compensation should be awarded and, if so, how much should be paid to cover medical bills and other costs associated with the plaintiff’s injuries.
Commonly Asked Questions
What constitutes negligence in a slip-and-fall accident on a sidewalk?
Negligence in a slip-and-fall accident on a sidewalk can be defined as the failure of the owner or occupier of the premises to care for the safety of their visitors. This can include failure to maintain their property, such as failing to fix cracks or holes or failing to put salt on icy surfaces. Other factors that can be considered negligent can include not giving adequate warning of hazardous conditions, not providing handrails where needed, and not keeping pathways properly lit or maintained. All these conditions must be present in order for a slip-and-fall accident on a sidewalk to constitute negligence.
What should I do if I am injured on a slippery sidewalk?
If you are injured on a slippery sidewalk, your first priority should be to seek medical attention. Make sure you document any and all injuries you may have sustained in the fall, including photos if available. After ensuring you are medically safe, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can provide further guidance about your legal options and help you understand whether or not you have a case against the property owner for negligence. Additionally, your attorney can help you pursue any necessary compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering. If pursuing legal action is not necessary or desired, it is still important to document the incident so that there is written evidence of slippery conditions at the time of the accident.
What types of compensation might I be entitled to for an injury on a sidewalk?
If you have been injured on a slippery sidewalk, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. This could include medical costs related to the injury, lost wages for time taken off of work, and even pain and suffering from the incident. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may seek damages for any long-term physical or mental disabilities caused by an accident, whether it be a broken bone, traumatic brain injury, or even permanent disfigurement.
In addition to seeking damages from the property owner (if applicable due to premises liability laws), an injured party can also pursue reimbursement from any other negligent parties whose actions contributed to their injuries. For example, if the slip and fall were caused by a contractor’s negligence in properly maintaining the sidewalk, the contractor may be held accountable for their actions.
It is important to note that each state has its own laws regarding slip and fall cases, so it is important to understand your local laws and regulations when pursuing relief for your injury. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is essential in order to best protect your rights and ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses.
Ross & Hill: Trusted New York City Slip and Fall Law Firm
Ross & Hill is a highly respected law firm in New York City specializing in personal injury cases, focusing on slip and fall accidents. Our firm has earned a reputation for providing exceptional legal representation to clients who have been injured in accidents caused by the negligence of property owners or managers.
Our firm has a team of skilled attorneys and staff who work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive the best possible outcome in their cases. We understand clients’ challenges after a slip and fall accident and are committed to providing compassionate and effective legal representation.
Ross & Hill offers a free consultation to all potential clients, during which we will evaluate the case details and provide an honest assessment of the client’s chances of success. If the firm takes on a case, clients can be assured that they will receive personal attention from their attorney and that their case will be handled with the utmost care and professionalism.
In addition to slip and fall cases, Ross & Hill handles a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, construction accidents, and medical malpractice. Our firm is dedicated to helping clients obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Overall, Ross & Hill is a trusted law firm in New York City that has earned a reputation for providing exceptional legal representation in personal injury cases, particularly slip and fall accidents. Our firm’s commitment to our clients and extensive experience and skill makes us a top choice for those seeking legal representation in New York City